RHP Adam Kloffenstein
Kloffenstein joined the Cardinals' organization courtesy of the Jordan Hicks trade. He's a 22-year-old right-hander originally drafted out of high school back in 2018. He has progressed through minor league ball relatively quickly, albeit with a few hiccups in 2021 and 2022. However, he has demonstrated the ability to master a level, even after a difficult start. Kloffenstein is now pitching with Memphis, where he continued his strong season. In 18 starts (94 innings pitched) between Memphis and New Hampshire (Toronto's AA affiliate), Kloffenstein has posted a 3.16 ERA along with 111 strikeouts!
Perhaps most importantly, Kloffenstein has managed walks well this year. He has the second-lowest walk rate of his career. His only superior season in this sense came in 2019 at short-season A ball, a level that doesn't even exist anymore. Kloffenstein has been much better this season at simply keeping runners off the basepaths.
Kloffenstein is demonstrating that he is capable of handling the upper levels of the minors at just 22. So why are evaluators so low on him? Simply put, Kloffenstein's "stuff" isn't the best. He doesn't throw very hard, and none of his five pitches are true "out" pitches. I should quickly mention that his slider has developed significantly in 2023. This pitch has a chance to become a true "out" pitch. This should in theory limit his ceiling, yet he's putting up ace numbers so far this year. He's struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings pitched. Kloffenstein finds a way to make what he has work. This sequence, posted by @kyler416 shows how Kloffenstein maximizes his arsenal.
His first appearance at AAA was excellent. Kloffenstein demonstrated that the Cardinals were correct in promoting him upon his arrival. He pitched five innings and recorded six strikeouts. He allowed just one run. More appearances like this will give him a head start on other 2024 rotation hopefuls. Kloffenstein will enter Spring Training in 2024 with a real shot at capturing a rotation spot. At worst, the 6'5" righty will open in Memphis considering his inexperience at the AAA level, but will have a strong chance to be promoted during the season.